The Third Botanical Event: Grandma’s Poppies

May 27, 2009

Poppy6465 Left: The first poppy of 2009.

Readers of my blog will recall that I mentioned there are three botanical events in my year. The first is the plum tree. The second is Grandma McKenney's tulips.

The third botanical event of my year didn't happen "on time" this week for only the second time in 17 years. Monday was Memorial Day, and for 15 of the past 17 Memorial Days we have had poppies in the garden. The first poppy popped Tuesday morning, doing its best to hide its tardiness by waving the flashy crepe paper petals they are known for. (All was forgiven!)

As I've said, I don't garden and I don't plant flowers. Our poppy patch is another remnant from Grandma McKenney. She loved red (or red orange in this case) and she loved vividness in her flowers. Originally the poppies were planted in a small rectangle within the vegetable garden. Even when Dick and I first took over the vegetable garden and switched to raised beds from rows, we left the poppies undisturbed. If you leave them undisturbed they return, and return, and actually increase. They have now taken over half of the unused garden, not minding at all that they are in shade for a good portion of the time. (The increase in shade is another reason I can't really hold them to a time schedule.)

Like Grandma I am mesmerized by their flashy display. I am intrigued by their insect repelling spiny stems. At the end of the season I'm equally enthralled by the pods which remain once the flower is gone and the seeds are spread. I have drawn more images of poppy pods than any other flower subject. I am fascinated by the compartmentalization, the structure, and most of all, the bare bones of what was so glorious. But drawing poppies is also a meditative experience for me. Symbolically poppies bring to mind World War I, another reason I think of Gallipoli on Memorial Day when the poppies bloom. On a another level, when I draw these poppies I also remember Grandma McKenney and the many gifts she gave her family, including these poppies. For me spring has started.


    • Timaree
    • May 28, 2009

    I noticed the poppies here in my area of Arizona only have 3 petals. I thought I was looking at an odd flower so I looked at all the ones in the near vicinity. Every one had 3 petals. Perhaps it’s the soil or perhaps the weather and wind here that they’ve adapted to. Your flower is stunning (especially in comparison to mine but any flower in this desert is beautiful to me) with it’s crepey petals and deep color.

    • Roz
    • May 29, 2009

    Timaree, Boy I wish I knew more about poppies so I could say something about the 3-petal variety you have in AZ. I just don’t know what’s going on and think your suppositions are good ones.

    I’m even more grateful now that I have the ones I have, all billowly, like Victorian lingerie.

    The day after the first one popped open 5 more popped open and then there were 20 and so it goes. It is getting more and more orange around here!

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